As a Certified Birth Beautifully Birth Doula, clients will be reassured to have you as their guide for pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum. Because our training also teaches you how to grow your business, you might wonder about how many clients you should take each month.
The answer: it depends.
The number won’t be the same for every business, so let’s walk through an example and discuss variables.
First, if you’re a sole proprietor, you have to determine how many hours you have available for:
- prenatal appointments
- clients in labor and birth
- postpartum appointments
- business management tasks including: consultations with potential clients, agency business meetings, record keeping, social media and other marketing, other appointments
To see what this might realistically look like for an example of taking on three clients a month, let’s set up a calendar:
- Postpartum appointments for February clients: March 7, 11, 17
- Birth Client due dates: March 4, 19, 31
- Prenatal appointments for April clients: March 2, 23, 27
- Business meetings, consultations, office work, continuing education as noted
|Create and schedule social media for the two weeks
7 p.m. – April Client 1 prenatal appt
|10 a.m. Potential Client Consult||March Client 1 EDD||Update mileage log||10 a.m. – Feb. Client 1 postpartum appt.|
Agency business mtg.
Work on updates to website
4 p.m. Feb. Client 2 postpartum appt.
|3 p.m. Potential Client Consult||
Noon – Lunch at Panera with my doula friends!
Create and schedule social media for the three weeks
|Write blogs and schedule for website and social media
||March Client 2 EDD||Update mileage log||
|7 p.m. – April Client 2 prenatal appt.
||7 p.m. –Feb. Client 3 postpartum appt.
||Write blogs and schedule for website and social media||7 p.m. – April Client 3 prenatal appt.|
|2 p.m. – appt. with accountant for taxes||March Client 3 EDD|
Looks busy but manageable so far. As we all know, due dates are estimates, so it’s likely you’ll have to reschedule some appointments. What happens when March Client 1 goes into labor two days before the EDD? You’ll have to reschedule the prenatal appointment with April Client 1 and work on your social media posts and schedule some other day. What happens when March Clients 2 and 3 are both in labor at the same time, or on back to back days? Since you are an excellent, professional Birth Beautifully Birth Doula, you’ll have a reliable backup doula in place so both clients will be fully supported – but you’ll still have to reschedule that postpartum appointment with Feb. Client 3, and you’ll still need time to sleep after, so writing blogs will get pushed to the weekend.
Obviously, this calendar doesn’t include all the business related work there is to complete, nor does it take into account other birth related services you may provide (childbirth education classes, placenta encapsulation, etc.). Then there’s also family and personal appointments and events to consider.
Also keep in mind that if you have a client due near the end of one month and the very beginning of the next month, you’ll have to account for the possibility of overlap with their EDDs. Taking clients whose EDDs are spread out is usually the best bet, but even that sometimes doesn’t go the way we expect. Having a concrete backup doula is crucial.
You may be tempted into taking on five, six, or more clients each month. Your excitement for the work, your personal financial needs, or other reasons could prompt you to do this. However, if you are an independent doula, Birth Beautifully does not recommend taking more than four birth doula clients in a given month. The more birth clients you have on your calendar, the more likely you will need to cancel and reschedule more appointments. Making plans isn’t always the easiest with this on-call type of work, but it is doable – as long as you don’t overextend yourself. Taking on too many clients can leave them disappointed and leave you burned out – neither of which makes for a successful business.
Doula Partnerships and Agencies
For those of you who are in doula business partnerships or own agencies, obviously you’ll be able to take on more birth clients because of shared on-call schedules or having multiple independent contractors working for you. Running those types of businesses allows for more clients, but it also requires additional overhead, business related tasks, and sometimes limited management of ICs.